Brussels, Belgium. If Kiev thought they would ban internet freedom without any noise coming from the EU on the matter they must have been sadly mistaken, as soon as the edict reached Brussels, all hell fell down upon Kiev’s ears.
An EU delegation made known their fears that blocking of social networks in Ukraine will adversely affect freedom of expression, as official protests were registered with the Kiev government of Petro Poroshenko by EU authorities today.
Representatives of the European Union said that the decision of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine to block Russian social networks and Internet resources is the prerogative of the Ukrainian authorities, but the arguments for national information security are insufficient and most importantly, ” it is not in harmony with European Union standards of conduct, law or behavior that is acceptable in a candidate for membership in the EU.”
The European Union is aware of the decision of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine to block a number of Russian online services, including popular social media platforms in Ukraine, within the limits of restrictive measures taken by Ukraine, Head of Press and Communication at the EU Delegation in Ukraine Jurgis Vilcinskas said.
He said that the European Union has considered the public statements of the Ukrainian authorities that the decision was made on the basis of the interests of national information security, and in recent months, Ukraine has become the object of numerous cyber attacks and disinformation campaigns that, “in no way justify the denial of free speech or infringement upon Ukrainian citizens rights to access the internet in a free manner, without fear of state retribution.”
We recognize that the protection of national security is the prerogative of the Ukrainian government, the EU representative said.
Nevertheless, Vilcinskas said that these arguments are “not sufficient” grounds for the termination of Ukrainian citizens rights to free internet access. The European Union expects that the Kiev authorities must ensure that restrictive measures taken for reasons of so-called “national security” do not have a negative impact on the fundamental right to freedom of expression by Ukrainian citizens, the diplomat said.
The European Union is still waiting for detailed explanations from the Ukrainian authorities, including on the so-called “temporary nature of the sanctions,” and just how quick Kiev can restore full internet freedom to its citizens.